Juilliard-trained James Wetzel is one of the most respected Catholic church musicians in New York City. In this episode, we ask James about his work as the director of music and organist at the Dominican parish of Saint Vincent Ferrer and Saint Catherine of Siena. His professional Schola Cantorum is renowned for keeping very much alive the “Church’s treasure of sacred music” for the worship of God in the sacred liturgy. James also shares his perspective and advice on how priests and music directors can take steps to build up the sacred music programs at parishes.
James D. Wetzel is the Director of Music and Organist of the Parish of Saint Vincent Ferrer and Saint Catherine of Siena on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where he directs the professional Schola Cantorum in over 70 services annually. James served from 2010-2015 as the Organist and Choirmaster of midtown’s Church of Saint Agnes and from 2011-2016 was an adjunct lecturer in Hunter College’s music department. Since 2010, he has also been the Assistant Conductor for the Greenwich Choral Society in Connecticut. Additionally, he holds a post as Assisting Organist at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine where he formerly served as Organ Scholar under Bruce Neswick.
Mr. Wetzel is active as an organist and continuo player, having performed at the Berkshire Choral Festival and with the Collegiate Chorale, the Orchestra of Saint Luke’s, the American Symphony Orchestra, the American Classical Orchestra, the National Chorale, and the Paul Winter Consort. He is the sub-dean and chairman of the programming committee of the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, a board member of the Catholic Artists Society, and a member of the New York Purgatorial Society and the Society for Catholic Liturgy.
Born in Pittsburgh, James earned a bachelor’s degree in organ performance from The Juilliard School where he studied with Paul Jacobs and was the first person ever to graduate with a master’s degree and a professional studies certificate in choral conducting from Manhattan School of Music under Kent Tritle. He also studied privately with Donald K. Fellows and Robert Page and spent a year reading Early Christianity and Apologetics at Columbia University.
Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena website: http://www.svsc.info